Volkswagen Up! Review

Gumtree Rating

4.0 rating

Perfect for cruising about town, the Volkswagen Up! is a compact city car with style and substance – especially its GTI variant. Available in two petrol engine sizes and as a fully electric version, it also offers seven trim options and comes in three- and five-door models. The Up has been on the market since 2012 so there are plenty of choices when it comes to buying. You’ll find it has a fantastic mpg and the lowest insurance group rating for the entry-level 59 bhp model – an ideal purchase if you’re looking for low running costs. Inside, there’s generous room for passengers with plenty of storage and boot space. Its handling and steering make for a fun, grippy ride, and the powerful performance from the GTI rivals many other hot hatches in its similarly sized class.

Take a look at the Volkswagen Up! model page to view available options to buy.

What we think about the Volkswagen Up!

The Volkswagen Up! combines high-standard equipment with an efficient engine and affordable price tag. In spite of its small size, it’s a surprisingly roomy and comfortable ride for both driver and passengers.

Pros

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Low insurance group rating

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Fully electric model available

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Spacious interior for a city car

Cons

Low Euro NCAP safety rating

No automatic emergency braking (AEB) system available

Low power from the entry-level model

First launched in 2012 and upgraded in 2020, the Up took the city car market to a new level with quality styling and a performance-driven GTI version. The 2020 trim options include the entry-level standard, White Edition, Black Edition, Beats, R-Line and GTI. The standard offers a 1.0-litre petrol engine, while the GTI offers much more power, 17-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension and heated sports seats.

Driving performance of the Volkswagen Up

Our Driving Rating7 / 10

For in the city, the Volkswagen Up! is a dream to drive: comfortable, agile and responsive at low speeds. It can stay controlled over uneven surfaces and speed bumps and handles open roads well, too. The sportier GTI has stiffer, more unforgiving suspension but this is more than made up for by its improved handling. It has quick steering and a small turning circle for excellent manoeuvrability. The Up’s relatively square shape helps with judging distances when reversing and parking, and there’s good visibility from the windshield. But, if this is a concern, there’s also the option for a ‘cruise and park pack’ on all trims that offers rear parking sensors, a rear camera and cruise control.

Safety and reliability of the Volkswagen Up

Our Safety Rating6 / 10

You’ll be kept safe from injury with the Up’s twin and side airbags, which also extend upwards to offer added cushioning. Further safety features include stability control to prevent skidding and lane keep assist as standard. On being tested by NCAP, it scored higher than its closest rivals on adult and child passenger protection, and comes with Isofix child seat mounting points in the rear seats. However, it received only a three-star safety rating – mainly because the range doesn’t come with an Automatic Emergency Braking (ABS) system. New models come with a 60,000 mile, three-year warranty as standard, which can be extended to five years and 90,000 miles.

Under the bonnet of the Volkswagen Up

Our Engine Rating7 / 10

If it’s engine performance you’re after, then the Up GTI is the obvious choice. It has a turbocharged 113 bhp number under the bonnet and can achieve 0-60 in under nine seconds. Its six-speed gearbox is upgraded from the standard model’s five and the ratios are evenly spaced so you can reach higher speeds with ease, which is a very welcome touch. The standard Up packs a 1.0-litre engine with 59 bhp. It’s best-suited to nipping around town rather than frequent travel on high-speed motorways, as its acceleration to higher speeds isn’t as swift as the GTI’s. Older models are also available in 60, 75, and 90 bhp 1.0-litre engines. The fully electric e-Up! was updated in 2019 to include a larger battery offering twice the capacity of the previous model and a range of over 160 miles per charge.

What you'll find in the Volkswagen Up

Our Design Rating7 / 10

The Up’s slightly square rear is modern and practical, offering good headroom and interior space. There’s especially good news for city dwellers: at a little over 3.5m long and with a tight turning circle, squeezing the Up into small spaces is a breeze. Twisting through the narrow streets and busy traffic is a similarly stress-free experience. The five-door option makes the rear easily accessible for young and older passengers, while folding rear seats increase the boot space from 251 litres to a very useful 951 litres.

Comfort and interiors in the Volkswagen Up

Our Comfort Rating7 / 10

Inside, you’ll find a stylish, high-quality interior in the Up. The dash has a premium feel for this price point, and the seats offer good levels of support, with a handy driver’s seat height adjustment available across all models. As you’d expect, the GTI model offers sportier seats, and it even adds a leather trim multi-functional steering wheel. The Up’s infotainment system is less developed than others in a similar class and doesn’t come with a touch screen, which does feel outdated. However, its five-inch colour screen is a useful display, especially if you’ve got the rear camera, and a well-placed phone cradle is positioned in the dash – you’ll need to use this to access integrated Volkswagen apps. Rear sensors, a camera and cruise control are offered as standard in the e-Up and as an option on all trims.

Volkswagen Up interior front

What features you'll find in the Volkswagen Up

Our Features Rating7 / 10

The Up’s standard features include ABS, traction control and airbags. There’s also body colour bumpers and alloy wheels, with 17″ steel wheels offered on the GTI. The features are pretty generous inside for its size, including air conditioning, front electric windows, height-adjustable driver’s seat and satnav. Go for the Up Beats trim and you’ll grab yourself an upgraded sound system and a multi-function steering wheel. If you’re after a more unique look, choose a Black Edition or White Edition with the coloured wheels and roof offering a striking contrast to the body colour.

What fuel efficiency to expect from the Volkswagen Up

Our Fuel Consumption Rating8 / 10

If you’re after an efficient city runabout, look no further. With its small engine size and lightweight chassis, the Up is extremely efficient, boasting an mpg of up to 55. Plus, its stop-start system improves economy and emissions by automatically stopping the engine when you come to a standstill. Even the GTI offers a respectable 51 mpg fuel performance, making it one of the most economical hot hatches on the market today. Of course, if it’s green credentials you’re after, the revamped e-Up has a range of over 160 miles and can be conveniently charged from home.

Running costs of the Volkswagen Up

Our Cost Rating8 / 10

The Up’s low insurance grouping of 1-3 means you’ll get nice low premiums. The annual road tax is very budget-friendly, too, with some pre-2017 models exempt because of their low CO2 emissions – plus, the ultra-efficient e-Up electric model is road-tax-exempt due to its zero emissions, and can be charged using a domestic plug. Typically, service and maintenance costs will be lower than for larger vehicles, making it a sound choice for affordable driving.

Our verdict of the Volkswagen Up

4.0 rating

4 / 5 Gumtree rating

The Volkswagen Up! is one of the leaders of its class with a quality, solid chassis and roomy interior. A fun-filled and easy drive with solid handling and suspension makes this a popular choice for drivers who often nip about on built-up city roads.